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Authors: Michelle Pickett

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Copyright © 2013 by Michelle K. Pickett

Sale of the paperback edition of this book without its cover is unauthorized.

Spencer Hill Press

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.
Contact: Spencer Hill Press, PO Box 247, Contoocook, NH 03229, USA

Please visit our website at

First Edition: June 2013.

Pickett, Michelle K. 1971
PODs: a novel / by Michelle Pickett – 1st ed.
p. cm.
Teenage girl survives the virus that destroys civilization only to find that the danger doesn’t stop with the end of the world.

The author acknowledges the copyrighted or trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this fiction: Alien, Band-Aid, Barbie/Skipper (Mattel), Bobblehead, Boggle, Coke/Diet Coke/Coca Cola, Dumpster, Humvee, Latex, Plexiglas, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Ritz, Scrabble, Sonic, Superglue, Taser, Tetris, Wal-Mart, Waldorf, Wii/Wii Bowling, Yankees

Cover design and interior layout: K. Kaynak.

ISBN 978-1-937053-28-4 (paperback)
ISBN 978-1-937053-29-1 (e-book)

Printed in the United States of America


Michelle Pickett



Also by Michelle Pickett

March 2014

The Infected: A PODs Novel
Fall 2014


In loving memory of my dad,
Michael Lewis Hayes
March 12, 1944 to January 28, 2013

Always Loved.



Nothing is as far away as one minute ago.

~ Jim Bishop

Chapter 1:

walked in the front door just minutes before dinner to find my parents huddled in front of the television set.

“Hey.” They either didn’t hear me or decided to ignore me. “I’m home,” I said, louder.

“Turn it off, turn it off,” my mom whispered.

“I’m trying…”

“Change the channel… for cryin’ out loud, give it to me!” My mom grabbed the remote out of my dad’s hand and turned off the television.

They both jumped away from the TV, my mom smoothing invisible wrinkles out of her clothes.

“Hey, sweetie, we didn’t hear you come in.” My dad gave me a forced smile.

“Yeah, I got that. What’s up?”

“Nothing,” they said in unison.

That was clue number one that something was wrong.

My mom recovered first. “How was the mall?”

“Oh, you know, I was with Bridget. She loves dressing me up like an overgrown Barbie doll.” I flipped my blonde hair over my shoulder and rolled my eyes. “I think it’s the hair. The rest of me looks like Skipper—short, skinny and no boobs.”

My mom laughed, the sound loud in the small room. But even with her piercing laughter, the room seemed quiet—the kind of quiet that buzzes under the surface of the noise everyone makes to hide the huge elephant sitting in the middle of the floor.

“What’s up?” I watched them look at each other, and then at me.

“Nothing, Eva. Why?” my dad answered.

“You’re both acting funny.”

“Well, don’t all teenagers think their parents act funny?” He put his arm around my shoulders. “We’re having your favorite for dinner tonight.”

“Ugh. How many times do I need to tell you liver doesn’t taste like chicken? I believed that when I was five. Now I know the difference.”

“No liver tonight. How does pizza sound?”

“Truthfully? Pizza on a Tuesday night sounds like something’s wrong. We never have pizza on Tuesdays.”

Okay, what’s up with these two?

“We don’t?” Mom asked.

“No. Dad says it’s a weekend meal.”

“Your dad says a lot of things us girls should ignore.”

My dad frowned. “I’m standing right here. I can hear you.”

“I know.” My mom grabbed the plates out of the cupboard.

Pizza on a Tuesday—that was clue number two that something was really wrong.

Clue number three came the next day at school. Everyone was talking about the news report. I didn’t think much of it. There’d always been theories about the end of the world, but we were all still around. So I tried to ignore the gossip and get through the day. But, as usual, nothing happened to anyone under thirty in Sandy Shores, Texas without Bridget knowing.

Bridget set her Diet Coke down on the lunch table with a thud. “I can’t believe you didn’t see it.”


“Hello, like, it’s end-of-the-world stuff!”

“Lemme guess. Jake told Alexa who told Bryce who told you—”

“Don’t knock the rumor mill, Eva. Jonathan asked you to prom just like I said he would.”

“Sorry, sorry. Far be it from me to interrupt the flow of journalistic mediocrity.”

Actually, Bridget’s rumor mill is pretty accurate. It’s almost like having a psychic on speed-dial

“Ha, ha. So how did you manage to stay away from television all night? It was on every channel.”

“Well, for starters, I actually did my homework.” Bridget rolled her eyes. “And my parents ordered pizza and declared it family game night. We didn’t have the television on last night.”

“That proves my theory.”


“Parents of only children are more protective,” Bridget said matter-of-factly, flinging her hand in the air before letting it slap the tabletop.

“I think others have had the same theory, Bridget.”

“Yeah, but your parents proved it last night. They were shielding you from the news. That’s why you had family torture night—”

“Game night, and it wasn’t torture. It was kinda fun.”

“How many game nights have you had?”

“Truthfully, it’s the first one I can think of,” I admitted.

“Well, there you go.”

Yeah. I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going, but Bridget had a point. One of the biggest news events of the year, if not the decade, was on television and I was eating pepperoni pizza and playing Scrabble with my parents. I hadn’t even known we owned a Scrabble board.

Bridget was right, of course. My parents
shielding me. I guess they didn’t factor in the high school’s raging gossipmongers. I knew not to take things churned out from the rumor mill at face value, but hearing them made me even more curious why everyone was panicking—and why my parents wanted to keep it from me.

Clue four: A very little thing, with life-changing significance.

The man on TV was balding. What little hair he had was gray—not a nice-looking silver or even white, but a dull, lifeless gray. Depressing. Ugly. He was the person who told me my life was going to drastically change—the man with the ugly gray hair.

He read his lines from a teleprompter, his eyes roaming from one end of the screen to the other. He read the words with perfect pitch. The blonde reporter—“eye candy,” my dad called her—sat next to him smiling and nodding.

Stop bouncing your head. You look like a bobblehead. Aren’t you listening? Don’t you see the same words on the teleprompter… or are they too big for your limited vocabulary? Stop smiling!

“The virus has no name. Scientists call it HHC6984, or simply ‘the virus.’ A person can be infected for days, perhaps a week or more, before showing symptoms. Once the symptoms surface, it’s already too late. Death is certain and swift. From the onset of the first symptom to the patient’s inevitable death is a span of two to five days.

“The virus is resistant to every antibiotic and antiviral medication we know of. It is highly contagious, although how it’s transmitted remains a mystery.

“If a cure isn’t found, it will not only turn into a pandemic, but will likely infect most of the human population by year’s end. Scientists are not optimistic about finding a cure,” the man with the lifeless, gray hair reported. The blonde bimbo beside him still smiled. I sat on the floor in front of the television, a Coke in one hand and the remote in the other, trying to wrap my brain around what I’d just heard.

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